Hygge (hoo-ga) is Danish for cozy

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Wallpaper Two Ways: Batya Stepelman

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Melissa Andersen

Photo by Matthew Eaton

Why chase just one dream when you can chase them all? With a popular food and lifestyle blog, Sparrows & Spatulas, a thriving wallpaper and custom wall mural business, WallTawk, and a fulfilling day job at Good Word PR, Batya Stepelman is living proof that you don't have to play favorites with your passions.

From choosing the most interesting wallpapers to offer her clients, to crafting the most delicious - and delicious-looking - recipes, Batya's impeccable taste is always on display. We caught up with our fellow pattern-loving friend to get her take on one of our favorite wallpapers, how to combine historic and modern, and what home means to her.

Hygge & West: What paper did you choose and why? Who is the person you imagine using each of the two spaces you've created here?

Batya Stepelman: I chose Otomi in Taupe because it holds a special place in my heart. After years of renting apartment spaces that had restrictions on painting, hanging objects, fixtures, and wallcoverings, Otomi was the first paper I installed after we bought our home. I ordered the samples immediately. By the time the rolls arrived many of our things were still packed up in boxes, and the ink had barely dried on our mortgage documents! Obviously I had my priorities straight!

I love that the pattern is so versatile; depending on how the rest of the room is designed, the wallpaper could be installed in an older, historic home (like ours, built in 1895), or in a modern space. Otomi is a design that has broad appeal, and anyone could use the pattern to create an inviting entryway, a warm nursery, a modern bedroom, a common living space, a living room, or a classic bathroom…the options are endless.

I envision a family much like our own (with a passion for older homes and a love of pattern) designing an entryway similar to ours using historic elements. And I think a design enthusiast - of any age or family size - could create a modern entryway by using Otomi as an accent wall, and accessorizing with pieces that complement that aesthetic.

Photo by Gibeon Photography

H&W: You're a self-proclaimed wallpaper fanatic. Tell us about your obsession, where it came from, and why wallpaper means so much to you.

BS: I’m originally from NYC, but I spent 6 years (my mid-20s) living in New Orleans. New Orleans is where I was introduced to pattern, color, and bold décor. I fell in love with wallpaper as a design category because it adds warmth and depth to interior spaces. It infuses rooms with personality, and there are so many colorways and design variations.

Photo by Gibeon Photography

I’ve been thinking a lot about why wallpaper in particular and design in general are things that resonate so strongly. In the face of everything that’s happening in our own country and around world, home is what provides us with comfort and security. We build community around our homes and we forge bonds because of where we live. I recognize that this is a privilege that not everyone experiences.

After a long day, I can walk through my doors and my mindset shifts immediately. I feel at ease. I look around and see fresh-cut flowers, my father’s paintings, art projects my kids brought back from school, objects that have meaning, photographs from our travels, and wallpaper - which sets the tone for every room it’s in. Quite plainly, wallpaper design makes me happy. As human beings I think we all crave happiness, beauty, and joy - and there isn’t anything frivolous about those things.

H&W: You've used H&W papers in several of your projects, including a recent one for the Sunset Magazine/Design Platform home in Denver. Tell us about the paper you and your client chose.

BS: The client asked me if I liked Daydream and I said, "Yes!" enthusiastically. I told her I loved Hygge & West papers, and the sample book had just arrived so I could show her the pattern. We met for coffee and chatted about design. I showed her the papers, and we both agreed it would look terrific. There's such a difference between seeing something online or on a screen and seeing it, touching it, in person. The colors are more saturated and the pattern just pops. The client is an interior decorator, so she had a really good sense of what she wanted. She thought Daydream should be installed on the ceiling and I agreed! It's whimsical, soothing, and thoroughly modern in this nursery space. 

H&W: We love how you've added so many modern touches to your late 19th century home, including some of our favorite H&W wallpapers. Which patterns and colorways did you use and why?

BS: Many of the original details have been preserved in our home - including the staircase, molding and railings. Otomi was the perfect pattern because it added warmth and it didn’t overpower the space. The pattern is a really nice design statement that complements the historical character of our entryway.

I was vacillating between the Taupe and Pewter colorways. We went with the latter because at some point we are going to repaint the house (early this winter) a brighter white and I think it will look great!

I also put Foret in Midnight in our downstairs powder room. It’s such a fantastic illustration and my kids LOVE it. I chose a dark color because I thought the gold tones popped against the midnight blue, and I added a large mirror to reflect the natural light from the window across the hall.

 

H&W: Your other big love in addition to wallpaper is cooking. Do you think there's any connection for you between creating beautiful interiors and creating delicious food?

BS: I do. Both visuals - food and décor - are meant to enhance our daily experience. And there’s something about food that’s bursting with color and flavor that leaves an imprint on us. Food is a way I connect to people I love, and I’m trying to create food rituals that my children will remember forever. I want them to think back on the meals we ate, and remember the people we shared them with, and where we enjoyed them. I think the tastier something is, or the more visually appealing a space, there’s a greater chance it will stay with us longer. (It also helps that our CSA farmers grow the most delicious produce that pops with color!)

H&W: 'Hygge' is a Danish word that loosely translates to 'cozy'. How do you find or create a hygge in your life?

BS: In the scorching 90-degree heat of summer, the late fall and winter might seem a long way off, but I’m looking forward to curling up on the sofa in my living room. I love looking out the window and seeing the historic homes that dot our neighborhood. I usually put on music (classical or jazz), wrap myself in a wool blanket, and watch the snow fall. Then I pour a glass of wine and flip through a food magazine, a design article, or a short story. This is my hygge. I’m lucky if I get 30 minutes before someone (my 6 or 5 year old) needs me, so I enjoy every second. We spend a lot of time hiking in the mountains during the spring, summer, and fall…so around this time of year I start craving those cozy days of winter.

RESOURCES:

Historic Entry: 1. Light | 2. Mirror | 3. Grasshopper | 4. Rug

Modern Entry: 1. Vases | 2. Mirror | 3. Coat hooks | 4. Table

 

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